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River Mead School battles tainted history in new report

ARECENTOfsted inspection has praised the  “rapid improvement” made since River Mead School was taken over by The Mead Academy Trust in September last year.

The report published this month branded the school ‘Inadequate’ – the lowest rating – but  praised fast developments in leadership, teaching, behaviour, and governance at the school since it was rebranded last year.

Ofsted deemed that pupils’ progress had been too slow and of too low a standard since the school  became Kings Park Academy in 2013.

The report said, “Pupils have not made enough progress and have fallen further behind since the school first became a sponsored academy in May 2013. Teachers do not have a secure grasp of what pupils already know and understand. As a result, they do not plan what pupils need to learn next carefully enough.”

The school fell from a Good rating in 2006, to Satisfactory in 2009, then was branded Inadequate in 2012 – a rating it has struggled and so far failed to improve upon.

In spite of shortcomings, Ofsted noted that significant improvements have been made since the school became a member of The Mead Academy Trust.

The report said, “Since joining the school, new senior leaders have made significant improvements to the quality of teaching. Pupils are now beginning to catch up. Rapid improvement in pupils’ early reading skills has been secured.

“The provision for children in the early years and in the resource base has improved significantly. High-quality support and advice helps children make better progress.

“The new senior leaders’ high expectations of pupils’ attitudes have significantly improved pupils’ behaviour. The new academy governors know the school well. They provide increasing challenge and support for the school leaders which are leading to better progress for pupils.”

Staff and governors insist they are invested in shaking the school’s bad reputation.

Speaking on behalf of the Governing Body, Chair  Helen Holland said:

“We are now part of a small, local trust that we can be proud of, with a sponsor that has an excellent track record of delivering effective outcomes and outstanding results.

“We could not have achieved any of this without the immense level of support we have had from both parents and children. Without their trust we would not have been able to reach such a rapid turnaround in the level of improvement River Mead has achieved since September.

Head of School Nicki Henderson said, “Like all rivers we are on a journey and we are moving in the right direction. We are incredibly proud of the children at River Mead School who continue to delight and amaze us and teach us something new every day.

“We look forward to continuing our rapid progress with the support of The Mead Academy Trust.”

On a recent visit to the school, Regional Schools Commissioner Sir David Carter said “I have seen a difference between the Ofsted report that is looking backwards and the school that is looking forwards under the new sponsor. I can see that the school will very quickly be good.”

The full report can be read at www.ofsted.gov.uk.